New Guy on ‘CSI’: Cheers for Ted Danson

by | September 21, 2011 at 1:21 PM | CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Fall TV Preview

Ted Danson on "CSI" (Photo: CBS)

Ted Danson on "CSI" (Photo: CBS)

“Two and a Half Men” isn’t the only high-profile CBS series making a major change at the top this season.

The other one is “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” the long-running hit procedural that is actually undergoing two significant changes as it prepares for the premiere of its 12th season Wednesday night (Sept. 21) at 10/9c.

In fact, that’s the first big change — the move of this venerable series from Thursday night to Wednesday. And the other change is the arrival of Ted Danson, who assumes the show’s leading role following two seasons of Laurence Fishburne.

Danson plays D.B. Russell, new boss of the Las Vegas “CSI,” who’s moved with this wife (who’s not seen in the first two episodes we previewed) from Seattle. So, the question you’re probably formulating in your head right about now is this: Is Danson any good?

We’ll answer that question, and few others, in our list of Five Things You Need to Know about the New “CSI”:

So who’s this D.B. Russell guy? Well, without spoiling anything, what we can pick up so far is this: He’s kind of eccentric, in a non-threatening, ambling kind of way (although, in at least one confrontation, he lets one underling know he’s the boss). He apparently made his name running down a notorious serial killer in Seattle. In the two episodes we saw, his knack for solving mysteries was on par with Columbo. Oh, and another thing: The CSIs suspect him of cultivating psychedelic mushrooms in his office.

Why’d he get the job and not someone from within, such as Catherine Willows (Marg Helgenberger), for example? As she explains in the premiere episode, she was caught up in the turmoil that eventually led to Fishburne’s character, Ray Langston, leaving Las Vegas (it’s revealed that he has a new job in Baltimore) and she lost her position as acting boss. Plus, in real life, Helgenberger’s planning to leave the show anyway, so making her boss would not have been practical.

So what’s the first case all about? Again, without spoiling anything (and at the risk of confusing you completely), the premiere episode’s central crime, er, bloodbath, takes place in a Las Vegas subway car (yes, apparently, there’s some sort of tram that takes people from casino-to-casino these days in the gambling mecca). One of the clues left at the crime scene: An octopus.

How does Ted Danson make his entrance? Two words: Lying down. Apparently, one of this guy’s eccentricities is that he likes to observe crime scenes from the vantage point of the deceased, by lying down where they were a few moments before (and after the blood has been mopped up).

Bottom line: How was Ted? Hey, maybe we’re just big fans of this guy but we’re usually of the opinion that he can do no wrong on TV. He’s been in comedies (“Cheers,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “Bored to Death,” even “Becker”) and at least one drama (“Damages”) and he’s never failed to amaze us. From what we can tell so far on “CSI,” he’ll do fine.

Go behind the scenes of “CSI” with Ted Danson here:
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